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How do you make the reader hate Voldemort?

Discussion in 'Fanfic Discussion' started by Taure, May 21, 2020.

  1. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I think pretty much every reader hates Umbridge far more than they hate Voldemort.

    To an extent that is a testament to JKR's success in creating Umbridge. But it is also a problem with Voldemort. We don't get anywhere near the same level of satisfaction from his defeat.

    How do we get our readers to hate Voldemort as much as they hate Umbridge? Is it even possible for someone like Voldemort to achieve that level?

    I suspect one of the reasons we hate Umbridge so much is her weakness. We know all through OotP that Dumbledore could squish her like a bug if he wanted to. More than a few of us probably suspect Harry could as well. And that very sense of impotency - of the indignity of losing, repeatedly, to someone who should be beneath you - that feeds the fires of hatred, I think.

    I'm not sure it's possible to do that with Voldemort, because the whole point of Voldemort is that he's incredibly powerful. Unlike Umbridge, he's a worthy adversary. And that makes it difficult to generate hate for him - not even cheap tricks like killing off characters really creates that intense level of personal dislike.
     
  2. Arthellion

    Arthellion Lord of the Banned

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    I think you have to make it more personal. Voldemort needs to use the connection more with harry in his head. Develop a relationship with him.

    Have harry on a date, and Voldemort decides to spam Harry's brain. Have Harry attempting to save a friend, and Voldemort hijacks Harry's brain just enough to cause Harry to fail.

    Make the torment more personal.
     
  3. Redsayn

    Redsayn Second Year

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    I remember watching this video a while ago. It more or less agrees with @Arthellion.
     
  4. Silirt

    Silirt Headmaster DLP Supporter

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    It's kind of like the 'kill one man and you're a murderer, kill a million and you're a conqueror' rule. No one really cares about how many terrible things Voldemort does; there's just some sort of limit where people stop getting outraged. I contend that what Voldemort needs to become hated by the reader is to basically become a celebrated hero at home and internationally after he defeats most of his enemies, and have his own choices be deliberately 'mean' rather than just effective. Have him take pains to crush the morale of the heroes, and don't let the reader connect his ultimate goals with his acts of cruelty. The reasoning behind those should be teaching annoying lessons to the heroes which everyone knows are false, like 'mudbloods started the war' or 'the majority invited the rule of the Dark Lord'.
     
  5. haphnepls

    haphnepls First Year

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    Pair him with Hermione
     
  6. RandyRanderson

    RandyRanderson First Year

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    I agree with what other people are saying. Making it personal and more visceral is a good way to achieve the goal of making a reader hate Voldemort. I think the reactions of the characters are the best way to do so. Instead of Harry closing the Daily Prophet when he finds news of violence, perhaps he reflects and feels sorry for the victims. Perhaps Voldemort obliviates Hermione and Harry gets to angst over the loss of his friend.
     
  7. FitzDizzyspells

    FitzDizzyspells Second Year DLP Supporter

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    The best example of an Umbridge-like Voldemort might actually be Snape, in an AU where he really does murder Dumbledore in order to rise to power.

    Snape's "bad guy" arc is so interesting to me, because the stakes start out very low — he takes House Points away from us; he gives us detention. Then JKR raises the stakes throughout the series — he might turn in my innocent godfather and send him to the Dementors; he's part of our secret Good Guys society, but can we really trust him; holy crap, he just killed the most powerful Good Guy on our side. Umbridge has a similar arc (kind of), in that she starts out as simply annoying and then slowly becomes a genuine threat.

    There are several main differences between Snape and Umbridge, which a writer would want to focus on if he were to create an Umbridge-like Voldemort. The most important difference, imo, is that Snape kiiind of treats Harry like an adult, whereas Umbridge treats Harry like a child. While Snape certainly doesn't respect Harry, the fact that he treats him like James is actually a point of pride for Harry. When Harry stands up to Snape ("my dad didn't strut, and neither do I"), he feels like a man. When Harry stands up to Umbridge, he gets shut down as if he's a child, which just frustrates him even more.

    The writer should also have this Umbridge-like Voldemort antagonize Harry's favorite authority figures. In the books, a surefire why to get on Harry's bad side is if you make life difficult for Hagrid, Sirius, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, or Dumbledore. And when I say "make life difficult" I don't just mean in a way that annoys them -- you have to have this Umbridge-like Voldemort actually take away some of their power and agency in a way that makes Harry feel even more helpless.

    All this being said, I think it would be difficult to create a male antagonist who could chastise Harry in a way that makes him feel like he's being scolded by a nanny, which is what infuriates readers (and teenagers specifically) so much. If you can figure out how a male character could attempt to infantilize a teenager, maybe that would be the key?

    EDIT: I forgot to make the obvious point that the arc I referred to earlier ("merely annoying character eventually becomes genuine threat") is encapsulated in Snape's role in Philosopher's Stone. Which is really interesting -- that one book tells Snape's entire seven-book arc: 1) annoying guy 2) bad guy 3) hero who was looking out for us all along.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2020
  8. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    For me, hatred stems from impotence -- a lack of agency. Note that this is not the case with Umbridge. Harry could have kept his head down, or just said fuck it and left Hogwarts. That's a ton of agency. Consequentially, I disliked Harry in OotP at least as much as Umbridge, because he had options, and chose none of them.

    So in that sense, it's reasonably easy to make Voldemort into a hateful figure. Harry gets captured, tries to escape, gets beaten again and again, constantly shown there isn't a single thing he can do. Hate indicator at maximum. Do that for a few chapters, and the disgust reaches levels where you just throw the book at the wall. Compare also e.g. Snape at the end of HBP when Harry corners him. Blocked again and again. Visceral levels of hate.

    It doesn't have to be (direct) physical power, naturally. Harry at the mercy of the Ministry achieves much the same. Ultimately, that is obviously enforced via physical power -- if Harry could just burn down the Ministry all by himself, it wouldn't be an issue -- but the effective situation becomes more refined than that. Umbridge could have been that, but for the exception noted above. A better example is the entire genre of Azkaban!Harry. It wholly rests on the pay-off of sticking it to the utterly hated Ministry.
     
  9. Selethe

    Selethe normalphobe

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    A focus on the hypocrisy in Voldemort's ideology (believing that anyone with muggle blood is inferior, but has a muggle father himself) is a good starting point. This doesn't bother us too much in canon because Harry doesn't feel the effects of this. But what about in an AU where Voldemort won? In a world where Harry is treated as a second-class citizen for being a half-blood, made to feel that he has something to atone for with his mother's blood, I can see us really hating Voldemort when we 'discover' that the wizarding world's leader is a half-blood too.
     
  10. Rubicon

    Rubicon Professor DLP Supporter

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    The John Wick approach always works on me. Whenever the bad guy kills an innocent animal, especially a puppy, they cross the moral event horizon in my mind - unforgivable.
     
  11. Newcomb

    Newcomb Minister of Magic

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    If we're talking about a minimally intrusive change, I'd re-write the scene where the trio is captured and taken to Malfoy Manor to include Voldemort, probably instead of Bellatrix. Between Luna and Dobby, there's plenty of nastiness to inflict on the reader that's personal and visceral.
     
  12. Shouldabeenadog

    Shouldabeenadog Unspeakable

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    As he is created, you can't. He is the puppet master. He is a threat to Harry only because harry is in the way. Harry's ideology offends and antagonizes umbridge and vice-versa, but Harry could hate puppies and Voldemort will still kill him because of who he is.
    If you want to hate Voldemort, you have to change his motivation to kill harry. Get rid of the prophecy and make Voldemort more personally involved (as mentioned many times above). But the prophecy is a spoiler on the relationship. Getting rid of it allows for a real hatred to bloom.
    The other piece is that you can't really hate an antagonist that doesn't care about the protagonist. Umbridge has a hard-on for Harry that Voldemort can never muster. Voldemort has to feel something very strongly for Harry, and it needs to grow and deepen as we hate him more.
     
  13. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    It's funny how diverging the ideas are. With some I can't identify at all. But then again, it kinda makes sense, because what you hate depends on what you value, and that's a very individual, personal thing.
     
  14. Gengar

    Gengar Polymagus ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I find the idea that you need to make him hate worthy kinda trite and boring.

    All my favourite villains ever are despicable people, but I still love them. Hans Landa and (ironically) Hans Gruber, for example.

    So no, I don't think killing puppies or torturing his friends would work. Leave that to terrible fanfiction. Sesc nailed it I think, you need to hammer down the sense of impotence. Voldemort is too concerned with Harry in canon - it's a bit pathetic, honestly. Ramp up the supremacy aspect while turning down the hatred.

    You don't hate cockroaches, you just think they're disgusting and wouldn't give a shit if they were all eradicated. You wouldn't go out of your way to hunt them down and squish them all, though. Make the connection between Harry and Voldemort less personal. That cold detachment and condescension combined with a lack of power to do anything about it would inspire more hatred from me than anything that happened in canon.

    There's probably a lot more I could say on this topic, but I'm just not confident enough in my knowledge of canon anymore to get into specifics.
     
  15. Genghiz Khan

    Genghiz Khan Death Eater

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    By naming him Hagrid.
     
  16. Download

    Download Fourth Year ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    By making the pairing child!Harry/Voldemort or child!Hermione/Voldemort. A pedo pairing is sure to make people hate him...

    [​IMG]

    Wait no, that won't work.
     
  17. Villanelle

    Villanelle Groundskeeper

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    Silens wrote a terrifying Voldemort who actively made Harry feel helpless, throughout the series. The possessions, Tonks, Cygnus Black, etc.

    How do you go from that ("worthy adversary") to hair pulling frustration/exasperation?

    There's a story in the library, can't recall the name but it's under Dark Arts, where Voldemort kidnaps Harry after the debacle with the stone. He figures out Harry is a horcrux and keeps him captive. Now, that Voldemort felt truly despicable, but it only worked because Harry very much feels like an eleven year old, defenseless child. It's been a minute since I've read this one, but I remember it leaving knots in my stomach. Similar to Prince of the Dark Kingdom, but even less of a mentor!Voldemort and more of a creepy "groomer".

    Where do you take the story from there? Slow burn Stockholm syndrome, followed by an arc of Harry worming his way out of Voldemort's grasp and finding his own freedom, and the story ends with a broken and battered, yet free Harry. Or, Harry actually dies and his soul is free f Voldemort, kinda like canon would've been if Harry had just died.
     
  18. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Headmaster DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

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    Write a Quest about him and put him in Hufflepuff. You'll get at least 50%.
     
  19. kelkorkesis

    kelkorkesis Fourth Year

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    I think another problem is Voldemort is too comically evil. He is like mustache twirling cartoon villain. It is hard to take him serious.
     
  20. Anarchy

    Anarchy Half-Blood Prince DLP Supporter

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    I think part of the problem is that he doesn't have enough screen time. Look back at book 3, see how much Harry started to hate Sirius before learning the truth. Every day at Hogwarts there was a reminder of Sirius, with the Dementors always there.
     
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